Governance and Right To Information

Governance in INDIA

The 10-Point eGov Agenda

Posted by egovernance on January 8, 2007

The 10-Point eGov Agenda

The four-city DQ e-Gov Summit ’06 series generated a flurry of suggestions from e-Gov’s most hands-on drivers and experts from across the Indian states. Dataquest consolidates these into a ten-point draft charter for DIT and other key stakeholders in 2006-07

Shubhendu Parth

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

If the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) was a catalyst for IT adoption in the government sector, the Union Government’s 10-point agenda for IT certainly opened the gates wider. This was followed by the State Wide Area Network (SWAN) and Common Services Center (CSC) policy announcement by the Department of Information Technology (DIT), which brought e-Governance to the forefront in India.

However, there were still some issues. Besides the proposal to solve the infrastructure issue, a policy to take governance closer to the rural population and the political will, there was an urgent need for government process re-engineering, civil services reforms including a certain fixed tenure for senior government employees and the Right to Information.

From Summit to Agenda
What Dataquest did (from the e-Gov Summit to the 10-point draft agenda)…
Step 1: Changed the format of the Dataquest e-Gov Summit 2006 to make it completely participatory and consultative in nature.
Step 2: Sought feedback and suggestions from the nearly 600 participants, including speakers.
Step 3: Consolidated the huge list of suggestions into a 14-point charter.
Step 4: Had a round one deliberation with DIT to streamline the agenda.
Step 5: The 14-point agenda was then sent back to each participant for further feedback and suggestions.
Step 6: The suggestions thus compiled, were incorporated to create the Version 2.0 of the 10-point charter.
Step 7: Had a second round of deliberation with DIT to get its inputs.
Step 8: Publish Version 2.1 for further debate and feedback.
Step 9: Incorporate changes as per the feedback and announce Version 3.0 (this acticle).
Step 10: Push for adoption by DIT and other government departments and ministries and monitor on a regular basis.

These challenges were brought up for discussion during the Dataquest e-Gov Summit 2005 and we decided to push many of these demands through our reports and stories. Not only has the Cabinet approved the NeGP, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh is slated to directly monitor the initiatives. An apex committee chaired by the Cabinet Secretary has also been set up to oversee implementation and provide policy and strategic directions.

While the Prime Minister has already indicated the need for a fixed tenure for government officials; the initiatives for increasing PC and Internet penetration is on its way; and a committee has been constituted to create standards for e-Gov projects. Besides, the RTI Act is already in place.
No wonder then, the Dataquest e-Gov Summit 2006, across all four regions of the country, was unison in its view that the Right To Information (RTI) Act was the biggest e-Gov driver in India. The Summit also recommended that a certain minimum basic and uniform criteria needs to be fixed for baseline survey before starting any e-Gov project, besides advocating for a common criteria for their evaluation before they could to be replicated.

The Missing Link
Dataquest started by asking questions. Can automated death certificate generation ease the process and reduce the time required for sanctioning family pension or compensation by doing away with physical movement of files? Will automation of land records help the government at the Centre and the states in proper allocation of funds and resource? Can automation of Police services at state levels lead to better cooperation at the national level? Can any of the existing citizen service centers-Gyandoot, e-Sevaand Bangalore One-really help in streamlining the passport application process by improving the backend process? The answer to all these questions was a big ‘No’.

The missing link to ‘Good Governance’ in India is the lack of prioritization and cross-functional application of e-government services. For example, while many states in India have gone ahead with automating the process of certificate generation-birth, caste, death-the lack of cross functional linkage between various departments means that there is still no end to the red-tapism in bureaucracy and governance.

     
S Regunathan, former chief secretary, Delhi ������� R Chandrashekhar, additional secretary, e-Gov, DIT   Aman Kumar Singh, joint secretary to CM, Chhatisgarh   SB Sawarkar, IG-Prisons, Maharashtra
             
  ����� ������
Amod Kumar, DM, Faizabad   Anita Karawal, secretary�Administrative Reforms, Gujarat   Ashish Sanyal, director, DIT   Tanmoy Chakrabarty, VP and head-Global Govt Industry Group, TCS

Dataquest’s analysis of NeGP and the feedback from the Summit clearly shows that most e-Governance projects in India lack the project management approach. Besides, in many of the cases, the agenda was found to be purely vendor driven with ‘e’ literally superseding ‘governance’ instead of the other way round. In fact, in most of the cases, our study revealed the ‘e’ component was just being plugged in at the front end, without paying much attention to the back end automation or bringing about the essential government process reengineering (GPR).

The Summit also advocated the need for e-Governance in India to graduate further from mere process automation like in the case of e-procurement to process improvement, knowledge management and process intelligence in government system.

It also suggested that India should move beyond the NeGP and announce a National e-Gov Policy, which leads to an e-Gov Act. This could be on the lines on of the President’s Management Agenda (PMA) on e-Governance in the US, with the key objective of making government services and information accessible to the citizens within three �clicks,� while using the Internet.

Moving ahead from Dataquest’s first Summit, the 2006 Regional Summit across the four metros-Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata-aimed at addressing these issues by developing through a consultative process, a 10-point action agenda for e-Governance in India.

What have emerged from the process and deliberations, are the 10 practical and achievable steps aimed at making India a truly e-Governed Nation. The agenda also clearly defines the driver for each charter, including the role that responsible media such as the Cyber Media India and Dataquest can play in this space. While some of these action points can be implemented in 2006, others can be initiated and completed in mid and long term.

The DIT and Government of India are already considering some of the steps recommended by Dataquest. They have been included in the agenda to make sure that the implementing agencies monitor and measure its progress at each step. Dataquest would certainly follow it up by appraising the overall implementation during its third Regional e-Gov Summit in 2007. Apart from this, the magazine would also be constantly reviewing the agenda and updating it based on interaction with all stakeholders, the citizen forums, civil society bodies, various state and central government departments, vendors and the DIT.

���� ���� ����
GD Gautama, principal secretary-IT, West Bengal   Dr Neeta Shah, director, e-Gov, Gujrat Informatics Ltd   PV Unnikrishnan, executive mission director, Information Kerala Mission   Prakash Kumar, joint secretary, Ministry of Ocean Development
             
     
MR Rajagopalan, director,
CDAC-Chennai
  Dr M.Ariz Ahammed, CEO,
Assam SFAC
  SR Das, senior director, DIT   Satish Kaushal, country manager, e-Gov (SWG), IBM India

The Agenda

1 Consolidate Applications
Primary Driver: DIT
Support: Media such as Dataquest
Identify 5-10 applications that can be delivered centrally-public grievance system, issuance of certificates, FIR registration and criminal record, education record, health records-while allowing for some interface customization, if required. This may involve some GPR in the states, to adapt local processes and formats to a common best practice model. Adoption will be optional but DIT could focus on building application, ensuring implementation in 2-3 states; Dataquest and other media would help showcase the successes, and both would urge adoption by other states.
It is also suggested that state could plan a separate data center for hosting state-specific applications and loosely integrate inter-state applications by using messaging systems.If states were to accept such an IT design, DIT could sponsor implementation of IT infrastructure for integrating all states, thereby creating India wide e-Governance framework.

2�Create Central Repository of e-Gov Resources
Primary Driver: DIT
Do a summary assessment of e-Gov projects in India and put them in a repository at the national level for reference and adoption by various states and government departments. Besides the project details, the repository would also capture and display information on applications used in the project, specifications, guidelines, source code, and vendor details.

Beyond the 10…
The Dataquest e-Gov Summit has added a new dimension to seminars, moving from a speaker-delegate model to a consultative model with participants contributing towards the common goal with their suggestions and feedback. Besides the top 10 ‘things to do’ as listed in DQ 10-Point e-Gov Agenda 2006-07, there were several others as below.

  • Adopt IT in education as a top most priority
  • Provide legal sanction for all Government-to-Government, Government-to-Citizen and Government-to-Corporate transactions either through adequate changes in the IT Act 2000 or a new Act
  • Include e-Gov initiatives as one of the parameters to decide allocation of funds for the 11th Five Year Plan
  • Identify not so sovereign government functions that can be outsourced.
  • Make IT component mandatory in all Government of India funded projects.
  • Make e-security and quality auditing mandatory for all e-Governance applications
  • Make it mandatory for the governments or department to own the IP of the solution /implementation to make replication possible
  • Make it mandatory that all e-Gov projects should necessarily meet the basic requirements of RTI Act (particularly Section 4,8 and 9)
  • Decide on a time frame to move all manual transactions to the e-Gov way and work step-by-step towards the goal
  • Push for Community Radio policy pending with the Cabinet Council to further take e-Gov to grassroots level. Accept TRAI’s 2004 recommendation on CR.

It would also include learning from projects about various shortcomings, FAQs, dos and don’ts and channels used, information about research and development funded by the government and related agencies in e-governance.

All projects listed in the repository would be available for optional adoption and replication and should be either Open Source (GPL) or the terms of contract should allow reuse by other government departments. However, it’s also possible to follow the shareware model. What this means is that the applications can be put in the repository and a trial version be kept for other states and departments to use and test it. The actual use would, however, require license fee payment.

The Summit suggested that governments and departments should also look forward to adopting and encouraging the Pro-bono model as one of the options for e-Gov projects.

3 Standardize Record Formats
Primary Driver: DIT
Support: Media such as Dataquest
Identify 5-10 key areas-rural and urban land record, birth/death/caste records, contracts, FIR and crime records, health record, education record, driving license record and municipal tax record-and set up a working group with fixed tenure to create a uniform standard for capturing data and records across India. The working group can look into the best practices across the states and create a uniform format that may be adopted by the states.

While the adoption would be optional, the DIT and the Planning Commission can link further funding for these areas directly to adoption of the format.

The common format would ensure that databases across the states could be linked to each other at the national level, enabling better planning option by respective governments and departments.

4Roadmap for a Resident ID Card
Primary Driver: PMO/Ministry of Home
Secondary Driver: DIT
Create policy road map, tech specifications and funding plan for a National ID or Resident ID card project. This would include one card system and common data structure at every level by initiating multi-utility, integrated National ID or Resident ID Card system that should be capable of accommodating new department needs and additional functionalities, as an when the need arises.

It could be similar to the US social security card or Singapore’s resident card system. The data from Rural Household survey, Election ID, PAN, PF account and Passport can be used as an initial reference point to take this forward.

The project should be driven by DIT at the initial stages for creation of unique national or resident number, consolidated database format, uniform specification for data collection and card issuance as well as security and privacy policy.

����� ���� ����
Dr Santosh Babu, collector, Krishnagiri District   Santanu Sengupta, CEO, Grasso   D Rajendran, commissioner, Disciplinary Proceedings, Salem   Umashankar CMD, ELCOT
             
     
Rohit Kumar Singh, secretary IT, Rajasthan   Talwant Singh, additional district and sessions judge, Delhi   S Abbasi, director, DIT   Rajan Varda, project director, SSK, UNICEF

5 e-Security and Privacy Policy
Primary Driver: DIT
A national e-security policy is important to safeguard information, particularly so when India is on its path to becoming an e-Governed nation. Hence, it’s important that the National e-Security Policy be clearly defined and spelt out. Besides, NeGP also needs to incorporate the security aspect for implementation of projects under the MMP, including the use of digital signature and e-security audit. An important first step could be the adoption and use of digital signature by all government departments by year 2007.

Besides, there is also a need to adopt a privacy policy by various agencies in possession of key citizen information. This assumes further significance with the increase in the number of G2C and G2B transactions being outsourced. This would also increase confidence of citizens and government departments in common databases, and of foreign customers in India

6 NDC Policy
Primary Driver: DIT
Support: Media such as Dataquest
A comprehensive framework for national and state data centers is important to avoid duplication of resources across states and at the Centre. The Policy would also aim at creating a framework to allow where required, interconnection of states and sharing of information (policy based) for better planning and allocation of resources.

The Summit suggested that the distributed framework approach be adopted for a national NOC. The states and departments should have access to data as well as applications as per pre-defined policies. The Summit also suggested that states should have a clear de facto and de jure control of the state level data center. However, the states also agreed that the data center may not essentially be in the state but can be hosted in a common data center, being run at the national level by a third party or by NIC. It can have a clearly defined DR site and policy.

The consolidation of infrastructure is aimed at better cost management, reliability and disaster recovery and not aimed at data sharing. While DIT can work towards creating a policy on the same, media such as Dataquest can push the cause by doing stories on architectures and presenting cost comparisons.

7 Funding
Primary Driver: DIT
Make available project based funding at the state level. The account model of DIT created for funding SWAN can be followed, making monitoring of fund utilization easier.

Three options have been proposed for ‘Project-based funding at state level’

Beyond the 10…
Define SLAs, Metrics
Primary Driver: DIT
Secondary Driver: Media such as Dataquest
The Datquest e-Gov Summit 2006 stressed on the need to develop simple metrics for monitoring and measuring the progress of e-Gov projects and initiatives on a quarterly basis. A similar step has already been taken for the SWAN project and DIT publishes the monthly development scorecard for all states.

The Summit also proposed creation of metrics for defining SLA and measuring the outcome, including RoI, scale and speed of deployment of a project. Besides measuring e-Governance initiatives by the supply side parameters, the need was also expressed for measuring the impact of these initiatives in terms of betterment of citizen’s quality of life.

The theme for year 2006-07 should be: One, speed of implementing a project, delivery of service and complain handling etc and second, SLAs to the ‘citizen customer’-both individual and corporate citizen as well as those involved in G2G transactions.

A: Fund only central adoption, cleanup, etc
B: (A) plus part-fund rollout for only the projects in the repository (additional benefit to be sought for originator of adopted application)
C: Give Central funding only for projects that have a clear e-Gov component (not IT projects)

8 Unified
e-Procurement Policy
Primary Driver: Ministry of Finance/CVC
Secondary Driver: DIT (For tech and security framework, standards, etc)
Procurement being one of the major expense areas, the policy is aimed at developing a guideline for e-Procurement and technology standards for the same. Besides, there is a need to propagate the procurement of services guidelines that have been recently incorporated in General Financial Rule (GFR) document. The CVC guidelines now covers procurement of works, goods and consultancy and services as well.

Also, there is a need to create a policy on user charges-tender document fee�that varies from one e-Procurement project to another, unlike in the case of traditional tendering process.

These issues can be handled by Ministry of Finance and CVC, which can also constitute an expert panel, including members of PSUs, to create the standards framework, security features and uniform process flow for e-Procurement in India.

DIT can work towards creating technology framework, including security and standards and a monitoring mechanism for the same.

9 The Champion Pool
Primary Driver: Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DAR&PG)
Secondary Driver: DIT/Media such as Dataquest (Like DQ e-Gov Champion Award and Best e-Governed State Award through DQ-IDC Citizen Satisfaction Index)
While the role of ‘champion’ as a success factor was highlighted in both the Dataquest e-Gov Summit (2005 & 2006), what has come out very clear is that many an e-Gov initiatives failed to achieve a critical mass because the official championing the cause was transferred.

While Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh had indicated a fixed tenure for senior officers, and the DAR & PG is driving the same, the Dataquest e-Gov Summit recommends the policy be finalized fast. Also, initiative should be taken to bring about changes in the service rule. This will enable post-transfer availability of the officer for project consultation for a maximum period of one year for hand holding of new projects in his previous department, if required. While the initiative has to be driven by DAR & PG, the DIT can play the role of a catalyst by pushing the cause.

Feedback
What do you think? What key steps in 2006-07 will take India closer to rapidly becoming an e-governed nation? If you have a suggestion, do write to us at dqegov@cybermedia.co.in. We’re looking for only clear, simple, actionable, achievable suggestions for the Department of IT or related stakeholders, or a specific industry entity, rather than general statements such as �attitude or mindset much be changed�.

Besides, the government can motivate officers to adopt the e-way of governance by linking their appraisals and promotions to their ‘e’ initiative and their proficiency in IT. There is also a need to create a core group of e-Gov champions at the state and Central level, who can act as consultants to other states and departments which are lagging behind in e-Gov initiative. The list can be published by DIT and also by publications such as Dataquest. DIT can also look towards motivating the e-Gov champions at the district level or extend the process through Dataquest’s existing e-Gov Champion Award.


10 
Health & Telemedicine
Primary Driver: Ministry of Health
Secondary Driver: DIT (To create white paper and push it)
Keeping in sync with the World Health Assembly 2005 resolution of adopting e-Health, the Summit recommends that e-Health and Telemedicine be made part of the Mission Mode Projects. These can also turn out to be killer applications for CSCs.

While its important to link district and village health centers to the major hospitals to provide better diagnosis and consultancy, this is also important for a nationwide medical surveillance system that the Health Ministry has already planned.  Though standardization of health record format is part of the agenda number 2, the same needs to be integrated in the final plan on e-Health and Telemedicine. The citizen ID card as in agenda number 4 can also double up as the Health Card, that can be used to maintain an online health record of the person throughout his life, no matter wherever he goes. The compiled database can then be corroborated at the district health office, where it is mapped with the help of the GIS system of the area. This healthcare tracking mechanism can help generate real-time data and many problems can be nipped out in its early stages, increasing the economic productivity of the individuals.

Shubhendu Parth
shubhendup@cybermedia.co.in

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2 Responses to “The 10-Point eGov Agenda”

  1. Abi said

    Awesome, man

  2. Conveyable said

    Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation 🙂 Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Conveyable!

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